Sunday, February 7, 2010


On the subject of cornucopian tripe, I would suspect that some of us watch "The Nature of Things" as I did by accident tonight. It is difficult to hold my supper down watching the commercials. One was by IBM, who presented an array of faces telling us what wonderful things their employees were working on to solve our coming energy crunch. They spoke of new imaging technology to find hitherto hidden oil cavaties and a way to extract more oil from existing wells, among other things. These various "solutions" were introduced by one premise. "Our energy demands will increase by 50% in the next 12 years so we must meet it." This is in keeping with conventional growthist wisdom. "There will be another 2 billion people in the world in x number of years so we must find a way to feed them." Why? Why must we meet the demands of an unsustainable population supported by an unsustainable economy? Would we "solve" our problems by succeeding in doing that (even if we could)? Or in fact would we not merely postpone the day of reckoning when the casualty list from collapse would be so much greater? These are the kinds of questions that the Suzuki-cult wouldn't dream of asking.

What is significant about these commercials is that they are being played on Suzuki's "The Nature of Things". The corporations who sell technological fixes know that the soft green audience of this show is exactly where their delusions can be safely planted and disseminated. And of course, it is obligatory that any slogan to capture a market today must include the word "smart". IBM's slogan? "Lets Build a Smarter World". Rather it should read "Lets Build an Even Bigger World on a small planet--- but do it in a smart way." The coup de grace followed with two other commercials that rounded out the polyanna promises of IBM. A company advised that their new smart furnace would use fuel more efficiently, and then a government initiative called "Return It" promoted responsible electronics recycling. So here's the formula folks: Promote runaway population growth, ignore its consquences, promise to meet its insatiable energy appetites with pie in the sky technology, and then stretch non-renewable resources ad infinitum with their more efficient use. And while we're growing and consuming ever more, albeit more "efficiently", we'll keep the place tidy by the "responsible" disposal of the tsunami of electronic junk soon rendered useless by obsolescence or minor breakdown. Bottom line--- it can be business as usual for ever and ever. Or as the "environmmentalists" in the Sierra Club, the David Suzuki Foundation, and Greenpeace say, "It is not whether we grow, but how we grow". Growth is good, growth is necessary, growth is possible. We just have to be "smart" about it.

I confess that I left the television on after Suzuki left the stage. The next CBC program was sponsored by "Hyundai". The word "smart' littered their spiel about a dozen times. Funny though, when I looked at the Hyundai on the screen, it still looked a car to me. It had rubber tires, glass headlights and a metal frame. I suppose the metal was smelted in a smart way from ore that was smartly mined and smartly transported to a smart factory by workers who used their wages to consume green products and dispose of them responsibly. Alternatively, it was processed and assembled in Korea or some such place in the conventional nasty and wasteful way but since it all that took place on the other side of the world, it doesn't blemish our clean environmental record here. Out of sight, out of mind.

Finally came our oracle of truth and integrity, presenter Peter Mansbridge on the flagship news program, "The National", the voice of Canada ---that is, the voice of the alumni of Ottawa's Carleton School of Journalism. The sponsor? The "Certified General Accountants" with a commercial that spoke of the need for something called "corporate sustainability". The environment can go to hell but it is important to keep corporations "sustainable". No, that isn't fair. The CGA wants "balance", that is, growth offset by the usual set of cosmetic and trivial green gestures that have little to do with sustainability and much to do with keeping the profit margins sustainable by wooing customers who need to feel "green". The National was then followed by "The Hour", where Mother Corp's icon of youthful trendyism George Strombopolous interviewed fiancial planner David Chilton. Chilton was bullish on Canada's future. "China, India and the world are going to need a lot of resources, and we've got them." And are you ready, Canada has a lot of smart people. Inguenity can solve any shortage, right?

It is interesting that so many of us defend the CBC because we believe that it offers a needed alternative to "commercial" broadcasting. But CBC television is nothing but a commercial pitch interrupted by the occasional "news" program which tells us what is not happening in the world today. And "non-commercial" CBC radio offers no relief. It is one long political commericial punctuated by interludes of culture. It is a medium of growthist, PC propaganda, and as Messrs. Dan Murray and Brishen Hoff have shown many times, it is immune to complaint despite its vaunted appeal process. The Ombudsman is just a fig leaf for a public-funded fiefdom of unaccountable immigration lobbyists masquerading as journalists. Reform it, scrap it or ignore it. What else can we do with the CBC?

Tim Murray
January 7/10

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